Year C Advent 4 Luke 1
Oh, How The Mighty Have Fallen!
Luke 1:39-56

I am holding in my hands a copy of one of the world's most revolutionary documents. In it are found these immortal words: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal. . ." Of course, that document, the Declaration of Independence, is the charter of the American Revolution. Though we have not yet lived up to it, it has been the vision that inspires us. The only document I know that is more revolutionary is in our Bible. It is called the Magnificat and is found in Luke, chapter 1, verses 39 through 56.

Back before India won its independence, it was under British rule. Bishop William Temple of the Anglican Church warned his missionaries to India not to read the Magnificat in public. He feared that it would be so inflammatory that it might start a revolution!

The document is all the more remarkable when one remembers that it came from the lips of a simple, teenage girl named Mary. She grew up in the obscure village of Nazareth in what is now northern Israel. The angel Gabriel appeared to Mary and announced that she had been chosen to be the mother of the long-awaited Messiah. Gabriel told Mary that her aunt Elizabeth, well past the child-bearing age, had become pregnant. Immediately Mary went to visit Elizabeth. Under the influence of the Holy Spirit, both women sensed that God has chosen them for special tasks and would do great things through their children.

Mary was then given by the Holy Spirit insights far too profound for a simple teenager to originate. She declared the impact that her son would have upon the world. She announced three distinct revolutions, which Jesus would instigate and activate. She spoke of these revolutions in the past tense, as if they had already happened. The world has been reeling ever since under the influence of our revolutionary Lord.

A world shaping revolution is in place. Just this past week many wrongs in the mid East were set on the path of being righted: the proud have been scattered, the mighty have fallen, and the humble He has lifted. With these events in view let us turn not to the UN, not to any world leader, but to a young peasant girl named Mary, for it is HER words that are illustrated by these world events. Let's consider that it was SHE that gave birth to the Revolution that is the pattern for all others.

  1. The first nature of the revolution is spiritual.
  2. The second nature of the revolution is social.
  3. The third nature of the revolution is economic.

Beware of Cute
Luke 1:39-56

Beware of Cute.

This is the time of year when we need to be on high alert for cute.

We love cuteness. This is a cute-driven culture. And this season of year turns everything it touches into glitz and cuteness.

But the story of Jesus' birth wasn’t cute.

The Annunciation wasn't cute.
The virgin birth wasn't cute.
The Magnificat wasn't cute.
The little town of Bethlehem wasn't cute.
The killing of the innocents wasn't cute.
The nativity genealogy puts Mary in the lineage of Tamar, Rahab, Bathsheeba, and Ruth (yes, the one who snuck in to the rich Boaz’s tent at night while he was sleeping to seduce him). Jesus' genealogy is not cute.

Golgatha wasn't cute.

"Crux" in Latin means cross. The crux of Christianity is the cross. And the cross isn't cute.

The old Christian calendar had ways of resisting this cultural drift into cuteness. On 26 December, the church celebrated the martyrdom of Saint Stephen. On 28 December the death of the infants whom Herod killed was remembered. In other words, the Christmas story was part of a larger story that dealt with injustice, suffering and even death. The joy of Christmas wasn’t a cute joy, but a joy that overcame obstacles and negatives...

What the researchers hadn't figured into their analytic assignment, however, was the fact that anytime you try and put a big family together squabbles are going erupt... presents Leonard Sweet